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Local Veteran Helps Create Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery

This wasn't an easy process

COOLBAUGH TOWNSHIP, MONROE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) - A special memorial is coming to life at the Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. A veteran from Monroe County is one of the people who helped make it happen, but this wasn't an easy journey.

In the 1960's, Bill Mullen served as an Army helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War.

He made it home, but 5,000 other American pilots didn't.

Mullen wanted to honor them. He explains, "we started thinking big."

He's a past president of the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association. The group helped create the memorial within the Arlington National Cemetery. It's located on a small patch of land unusable for burials.

Mullen adds, "and what better place to honor them then where we honor our military at Arlington National Cemetery?"

But getting to this point wasn't easy. When they first pitched the idea... "they said no," Mullen laughs.

Then, local congressman Matt Cartwright stepped in. He co-sponsored a special bill for the project. "He and his staff just worked tirelessly," Mullen explains.

The bill never became law, but military and legislative officials continued negotiating.

Mullen says, "we went to the Arlington office, and they said let's just go to the site and have a cup of coffee, which is really great!"

Mullen says after about 15 minutes, the site was marked. "We are thrilled!" Mullen smiles.

Mullen says the Army taught him to not come home until the mission is complete. "The mission was not completed, and so we couldn't quit," he says.

This is his extended service to his country and comrades. "Those 5,000 young people deserve for us to be their voice," Mullen explains.

A formal dedication is scheduled for April 18th, including a wreath laying ceremony.

The Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association is funding the project.


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